Speech and language development - what to expect 5 - 8 years

5-8 years: what to expect

This covers a huge period of development for any child.

The following would be common features at this stage:

  • well formed sentences with a good range of vocabulary
  • speech should be easy to understand
  • the child can follow instructions while carrying out another activity at the same time
  • the child can use language in different ways eg they are starting to  discuss ideas and give opinions

According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ Communicating Quality 3 the accepted prevalence in 2006 was that 10% of the school aged population had a speech, language or communication difficulty which could potentially affect their educational attainment. The prevalence was higher in areas of social deprivation and where there are vulnerable populations (high rates of drug or alcohol abuse and or looked after children).

For a child with speech and language difficulties accessing education will be challenging and without the right supports they may experience:

  • literacy difficulties
  • social isolation
  • behaviour problems
  • bullying
  • low self-esteem
  • difficulties accessing the curriculum (education is delivered almost entirely through the medium of language)

 Children's communication skills can affect their ability to be:

  • successful learners
  • effective contributors
  • responsible citizens
  • confident individuals

So communication has relevance across the 4 capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence, and is central to active and cross curricular learning. In order to achieve the outcomes of the curriculum M.Gascoigne (2006) notes that all those working with a child have an important role to play.

The Scottish Government has published guidance on partnership working. It includes:

  • features of good practice
  • examples of working together
  • a description of the universal, targeted and specialist roles of the Allied Health Professionals (including Speech and Language Therapists)
  • the potential impact and outcomes for young people of partnership working

5-8 years: indicators for concern

  • poor eye contact and social skills including difficulty with:
    • relating relevant information
    • taking turns to speak
    • keeping to the topic of conversation
    • initiating interaction
  • poor attention and listening skills
  • vocabulary is weak and impacting on progress in the classroom
  • dysfluency (stammer)
  • difficulty following instructions
  • behaviour difficulties
  • difficulty understanding social clues
  • sentences have poor word order
  • difficulty in retelling a story or event
  • lack of flexibility, changes of routine are found to be a challenge
  • engages in his or her own rigid choice of activity or topic of conversation
  • speech is not clear
  • clumsy, with lack of coordination in physical movements or speech
  • hoarse voice or abnormal voice quality

Your local speech and language therapy department can also provide support and advice. There is an open referral system. Referrals are accepted from the family and anyone working with the child. Parental permission for referral is always required.

Local speech and language therapy teams can also offer training in order to share skills and knowledge relating to communication development; and supporting children with speech, language and communication needs.

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